The Best Cast-Iron Pans for the Kitchen
If you’re ready to invest in cookware that can last a lifetime, start here. Our guide will help you understand the wide range of cast-iron pan options available today, so you can make the right choice for your kitchen.
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- BEST OVERALLLodge 15-Inch Cast Iron SkilletCheck Latest Price
- UPGRADE PICKLe Creuset 10-1/4-Inch SkilletCheck Latest Price
- BEST VALUEVictoria 12-Inch Cast Iron SkilletCheck Latest Price
Durability, versatility, and low maintenance—these are the calling cards of cast-iron pans. As the longest-lasting of cooking wares, these pans can be handed down from generation to generation, only getting better with time. The more you cook, the more grease and oils your cast iron will absorb, thus improving its naturally nonstick surface.
A cast-iron pan is capable of frying, baking, broiling, grilling and even more, thanks to its ability to withstand high temperatures and provide even heating. But cast-iron pans don’t just produce tasty meals; they are also quite easy to maintain. Indeed, this durable material is rarely too far gone to be revived; if rust ever appears on the pan, you can just scour it back to being as good as new.
If you’re ready to invest in cookware that can last a lifetime, start here.
- BEST OVERALL: Lodge 15-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
- UPGRADE PICK: Le Creuset 10-1/4-Inch Skillet
- BEST VALUE: Victoria 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
- BEST GRILL PAN: Lodge Cast Iron Grill/Griddle
- HONORABLE MENTION: Lodge 17-Inch Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet
Key Shopping Considerations
Shopping for the best cast-iron pan for the kitchen does take a little homework, as they have some unique attributes. Here’s a quick rundown of what to keep in mind.
Size and Depth
Cast-iron pans come in many sizes and depths, so choosing one in the right style for your kitchen requires some thought. If you like throwing burgers or steaks in a cast-iron skillet, you’ll want a larger pan (15 inches or so) with a relatively shallow depth (an inch is good). This depth provides plenty of room for a few pieces of meat at once with enough space to flip them easily. For braising and roasting, a medium pan in the 12-inch range is fine, but you’ll want it to be a little deeper, about 2 inches, to hold more liquid.
In addition to varying sizes, there are a few different styles of cast-iron cookware to consider. Cast-iron pans also come in deep pots, Dutch-ovens, and griddle/grill combinations. Your preferred cooking method will help determine which style is right for you.
Skillets often come with handle styles, including a traditional panhandle or loop handles. Traditional handles work for everyday stovetop pan use, while loop handles are excellent for pans that will see a lot of oven time simply because they fit better.
Pour spouts cast into the pan in the foundry are a nice feature to have. They make it easy to pour off waste like fat and grease into a can, or excess seasoning oil into a container for future use. Also, they help pour soups, stews, and gravies into bowls or serving dishes.
Cast-iron pans covered with an enamel coating are extremely easy to care for and clean. The majority of cleanings require only wiping the pan clean with a damp cloth. They don’t need additional seasoning as the glass coating provides an excellent non-stick surface. They are an excellent alternative for the same recipes and cooking methods as plain cast-iron pans, including baking, frying, braising, and broiling.
Seasoning refers to the oil that’s worked into the pan’s surfaces. The seasoning prevents rust, creates a non-stick coating, and collects and transfers flavors into other dishes. Many pans come factory seasoned with different cooking oils. If you’re particular about your cooking oil, look for one seasoned to your taste.
Our Top Picks
1. BEST OVERALL: Lodge 15-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
Lodge’s 15-inch cast-iron skillet is an industry standard in versatility and durability. This pan features a traditional handle, making it great for cooking on a stovetop. Baking isn’t a problem either, as the additional loop handle gives you an extra grip for safely removing it from the oven. Also, Lodge seasons all of their cookware in their factory, so it comes ready to use.
The biggest drawback to this Lodge skillet is that the factory seasons all of its products with soy-based vegetable oil. Lodge says that the oil they use is non-GMO, but some shoppers may prefer not to consume soy-based products.
2. UPGRADE PICK: Le Creuset 10-1/4-Inch Skillet
Le Creuset’s 10-1/4-inch skillet is an excellent choice for shoppers looking for a stylish, high-end product. It comes in several different colors, making it easy to match your kitchen decor. The exterior enamel coating is bright and incredibly durable, while the interior coating can be built up to a non-stick surface. After use, wipe it clean and put it away.
Initially, these pans will require some additional seasoning to achieve the non-stick surface cast-iron pan users desire. Also, lighter-colored pans tend to become discolored after prolonged use.
3. BEST VALUE: Victoria 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
For someone looking to break into cast-iron cooking, Victoria’s 12-inch cast-iron skillet is a great start. This traditional-style pan comes from the foundry with a factory-applied seasoning of non-GMO flaxseed oil, so it’s ready to go right away. The size is also perfect for an experienced cook looking to complement their current pan set without taking up too much space in a cupboard or cabinet.
The downside to this value pick is that the fit-and-finish might not be quite up to the level of other models on the list. The cooking surface is rough and may require more aggressive cleaning than a better-finished pan would.
4. BEST GRILL PAN: Lodge Cast Iron Grill/Griddle
Lodge’s cast-iron grill/griddle combination is a breakfast eater’s delight. This pan works well on a stovetop, over a campfire, or on a grill grate when a griddle is needed. It’s perfect for whipping up eggs and bacon, but it’s still useful for sauteing onions or peppers for an easy dinner.
While the design is excellent for the uses we mentioned, it falls short in a few areas. It can’t be used for braising or baking anything other than cookies. It’s just not as versatile as other pans on the list. Also, as a Lodge product, it’s seasoned with soy-based veggie oil, so keep that in mind.
5. HONORABLE MENTION: Lodge 17-Inch Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet
Lodge’s 17-inch cast-iron skillet is a considerable pan capable of making some excellent meals, and versatile enough to take the place of a baking dish, a wok, or a griddle. It’s deep enough to handle some brownies, but its surface is large enough to work a spatula under a few pieces of French toast. It’s also capable of broiling several pieces of meat at the same time. It’s an all-around useful cooking tool that truly embodies the best aspects of cast-iron cooking.
The downside is that this Lodge can be a pain to store if you have narrower or shallow cabinets. Also, the lack of a traditional handle makes it a challenge to manipulate on a stovetop. Last but not least, don’t forget Lodge’s use of soy-based seasoning if that’s a big deal to you.